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Lake Lanier Fishing Report: Now is time to catch trophy-worthy stripers
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Water Conditions: Lake Lanier’s water level remains close to full pool. The lake water level is 1,070.68 feet or .32 feet below a full pool of 1,071. Lake water temperatures range mostly in the mid to upper 60’s. The main lake is stained on the surface from the heavy pollen, but the water underneath is clear. The creeks are stained from pollen, but the water ranges from clear in the mouths on back to muddy from rain runoff flowing in from the creeks.

The Chattahoochee River is clear below Buford Dam. Check generation schedules at 770-945-1466 before heading out to the river.

Bass fishing remains very good and this has been a banner spring for it. There are many reasons for this. This spring the lake and air temperatures have been very steady and we have not experienced the extreme highs and lows that have occurred in the last several years. Add to all of this the extreme cold weather we experienced right before spring and also the steady lake levels, all of which have been a Godsend for Lake Lanier’s bass populations and the anglers that target them up.

About five weeks ago when it was very cold, the bass seem to have come from out of nowhere into water less than 15 feet deep where they have remained and increased in numbers and size since the water warmed up into the 60s. During this time, I have seen a lot of smaller schools of 3-10 bass roaming the shallows while also witnessing some mega schools of 15 to over 30 fish swimming into the coves to prepare for the spawn.

My reports have mainly concentrated on shallow fishing for bass because, frankly, that is about the only place I am getting consistent quality results. I have forced myself to fish deep both out around main lake humps and points and also in the deeper ditches and channels leading into the spawning coves. By doing this you will catch fish there sometimes, but you can’t beat, in my opinion, the consistent results that come from fishing the right coves in less than 10 feet of water.

There are plenty of fish that will eat worms, jerk baits and crank baits worked around in the docks in the coves, points and rocky banks up around main lake and also up in the rivers on the rounded bends and also just off the main river in the little oxbow type coves.

The methods and lures I mention in my reports are exactly the same things you will find on the deck of my Nitro Z8.

I have two rods on deck at all times and they consist of the following: The first set up is a Kissel Krafts 7-foot-2 shaky head rod and a Shimano Spinning Reel spooled with 7-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon with a ¬ ounce Gamakatsu Alien Head with one of several varieties Big Bites soft plastics. The second set up one is a 7-foot-10 Kissel Krafts Cranking Rod equipped with a Johnny Morris Carbonlight Reel spooled with 12- or 14-pound Sunline Sniper Fluorocarbon and with a SPRO McStick 110 in Clear Chartreuse. Some other lures I have been using have been a Big Bites Jerk Shad or Zoom Fluke, a SPRO Fat Papa 55 in Mello Yellow or a SPRO Baby Little John DD in Spook Nasty color.

The biggest change I have seen this past week is that we are starting to get a decent topwater bite.

Striper fishing is very good and spring is one of the best times of the year to catch a trophy striper, or maybe even a lake record! Just ask David Heidler. He landed a 47-pound striped bass this past week on Lake Lanier. This fish is only a pound less than the lake record. The fish was caught on a 10-inch gizzard shad while he was fishing with his father. You can bet David’s father was just as proud of his son catching this fish.

Congratulations David on an awesome catch!

The stripers are biting well in the pockets. They also go through a “false” spawning run which will bring them up shallow into the rivers up lake and in the pockets and creeks down lake. Even though stripers do not officially reproduce on Lake Lanier, they still go through the motions.

Because of the fake spawn, you may find stripers very shallow this time of year. Add to this that the water temperatures are prime, the blueback herring, gizzard and threadfin shad are also up shallow and the stripers don’t have any reason to stay deep.

Continue to pull flat lines and planner boards. Early in the day you can start outside the pockets in the creeks and just off main lake and slowly drift or troll live baits back into these coves.

Use your planner boards to not only cover a wide path, but to also allow your live baits to get up next to the banks. Use lively store-bought or freshly-cast blueback herring. Also try to add a large gizzard shad to motivate the larger stripers into biting. Make sure you have the proper tackle in case you hook the next Lake Lanier record.

Crappie fishing is good and it’s hard to beat these tasty fish when it comes to bringing home a meal. The same methods are working as last week.

Use lightweight spinning and spin casting reels and rods. The same rods and reels will work for catching crappie, brim and trout. A good all around rod and reel is a 6-foot light weight rod with a small spool spinning reel with 4-6 pound test line.

Serious crappie anglers do use longer rods at times so they can stagger their trolling methods, but for an all-around outfit that will catch a variety of fish, the above mentioned setup is perfect for most anglers.

Continue to use small crappie minnows hooked to small Aberdeen style hooks and set under a bobber from a foot to three feet between your bobber. Cast these out around docks, out into coves that have Christmas trees and around bridges.

Trout: One of the best methods for catching trout where live bait is permitted is to use natural worms. If you have kids it is great to have them join us to catch their worms the night before or even the same day directly before a fishing outing.

For kids, digging worms can be almost as fun as catching trout.

If you have a mulch pile or a garden area, this is a great place to start.

You can also find small areas in your yard or back in the woods where there are some wet leaves or mulch-like soil. Dig up some dirt and capture worms as you go. Place them along with a little dirt in a coffee can, tupperware or even a Ziplock bag, but don’t seal any of these airtight because the worms need air.

Use these worms with the following setup: Rig a small Gamakatsu bait hook on light 4- or 6-pound test and crimp a 1/4-ounce split shot (or use a lighter or heavier one based on the current) and place the split shot 1-2 feet above the hook.

Thread a live worm on the hook and then cast it into the deeper pools that are located at the end of the rapids. As mentioned before, check local regulations to make 100 percent sure that the area you worm-fish allows live bait.

In artificial fishing areas, you should be able to get by with a small Rooster Tail or Mepps inline spinner or use a small minnow imitator like a Rapala Countdown Minnow or a Yo Suri Pinns Minnow. Growing up fishing the Chattahoochee, the only lures I used were a Rooster Tail and the Countdown Rapala.

Fly-fishing reports state that the trout are biting a variety of dry (floating) and wet (sinking) flies.

Enter the name of the water you plan to fish in your Internet Browser and the words “fly fishing” and you should be able to get up-to-date information. Or you can just load a dozen of your favorite flies and turn over rocks or watch for insect hatches and “match the hatch”

Bank Fishing: There are a variety of fish that will bite shallow. It does not matter if you are going to fish a creek, river, farm or subdivision pond or Lake Lanier.

Dig up some worms or buy some minnows and a good bucket that you can place into the water to keep your bait alive.

Place a small Aberdeen-style hook under a bobber and cast it out away from the bank or close to any good structure like docks, trees or rocks and hold on.

You should be able to catch Brim, Bass, Crappie and other fish.

Eric Aldrich is an outdoor writer, marketing specialist and bass angler. Reports are based on personal experience and permission from a close network of friends. I would love to hear from our readers so please email me at or visit my website at Remember to take a kid fishing!

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